Trade shows and in-person conferences are rapidly returning so what can companies expect and how to prepare? Marketing budget allocations may have been redistributed during the pandemic so current data analysis may prove shifting dollars back to trade shows will yield the best marketing ROI. Marketing and trade show budget allocations are changing rapidly. Exhibitors need good data, pre and post show to make qualitative decisions about their participation in the show.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s first quarter index results show that the U.S. business-to-business exhibitions industry has improved significantly in the first quarter of 2022. Cancellations for events continue to drop, with just 9.2 percent of in-person events being cancelled and 1.6 percent being postponed in Q1 this year. That’s a significant increase from the same time frame in 2021, when 91.3 percent of in-person exhibitions were cancelled.

CEIR reports post-pandemic data indicates over 80% of companies have shifted away from exclusively digital events. Over 94% of business leaders site ‘Customer Experience’ as their #1 investment priority enabling business to move forward. Why the shift? Exhibitions deliver on ROI, as evidenced in the large percentage of exhibitors saying that trade shows deliver the highest value in helping hit high priority marketing (40%+) and sales objectives (31%+). Alternative channels used during the pandemic do not enjoy strong ratings, 17% or fewer gave channels used the highest effectiveness score.

UFI Global Association of the Exhibition Industry concluded the Global Exhibition Barometer in July with more data highlighting the impact of face-to-face meetings. The results showed 87% of respondents agree COVID-19 confirms the value on in-person meetings, an increase from 80%. 57% of the respondents said “Virtual” events definitely do not replace physical events. The proportion of companies declaring “normal activity” increased from 30% in January to around 70% between September and December.

UFI Exhibition Barometer
Keeping current with data worldwide is a key element for the success of your trade show program. It is also important to monitor health and safety regulations for exhibit staff and attendees. Guidelines are subject to change including rules for PPE. Some shows or venues may require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. Mask wearing has been reduced but many attendees and exhibitors still feel more comfortable wearing a mask and observing social distancing so that should be a consideration in planning the exhibit space. Exhibit managers should have contingency safety plans for staff members when they report feeling ill. It is a new exciting time with new opportunities to expand your market at trade shows. When you are ready to start planning your next event, contact us via email or call 817-370-1400